The process I recommend for selecting a new CRM platform. In my line of work I assist hundreds of businesses with the marketing software and how to roll them out across teams and departments. One question I answer a lot is about the selection process when I am choosing the software to recommend, today Ill show you how I narrow down my choices in a logical method.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of CRM platforms to choose from. As a technology consultant I won’t be recommending any specific platforms as I believe there are different solutions for different businesses and Ill give a fair shout to the ones I believe are value for money.
The Too Long Dont Read Recap:
1. Make a list of what you want in your CRM.
2. Ask for free trials of different software.
3. Find out what kind of training is available.
4. Get references from friends, colleagues or business associates.
Conclusion: With so many different CRM tools on the market, it can be hard to choose the right one. Keep these tips in mind to help you make the right decision.
Start with a brief
As with most projects, it’s best to start by writing a brief. Outline all of the problems that you believe a new CRM will solve, and all of the features and benefits that you hope this new CRM will bring to the table.
As well as give you a reference point when conducting research, it can act as a proposal document to get the new platform approved by your CEO, director or manager.
Once you’ve compiled the document, I recommend you take the features that you’ve identified and list them in a spreadsheet. Make a note of whether they are nice to have, or non-negotiable.
A few things to consider that some people neglect are;
- How much support is there in the onboarding process?
- What level of support is provided ongoing?
- How does the cost change as you add more team members?
- How does the cost change as you increase the number contacts or emails?
- How does it integrate with the rest of your tech stack?
- How much tech or developement support will you need to set it up?
- Do they invest in creating new features?
These are all questions you should consider on top of your unique requirements for a CRM.
Research the platforms
Now it’s time to see what’s out there. There are plenty of well known CRMs that you should take the time to check out, but also search for CRMs that are specific for your industry.
At this stage of your research, you are just looking at what’s available and so you don’t need to speak with a sales rep, just spend 5 to 10 minutes looking at their websites. You should jot down which platforms you’ve looked at, whether or not they look like they meet your criteria, and an estimate of the price you will need to pay.
Free trials are your friend, I often see a new software that looks like it does everything on teh website sales page, but when i log in with a free trial I can tell in minutes that this will not be a good fit for the client based on the use of the software.
Sign up for a free trial.
I usually grab the 5 or 6 known softwares that help a clients specific problem, list them down in a spreadsheet and note their features, pricing models and limitations so I have a baseline to review.
My Most Used CRMs:
Disclaimer: This post contains referral links that if you click on and purchase or subscribe to the software mentioned I will be awarded a referral fee. As a technology consultant I constantly refer and recommend people to software companies most of the time without any reward or payment if I am not hired. This referral program is what i use as an official platform partner of these softwares. You do not incur any additional fees and in some cases get up to a 20% discount on the prices because you have signed on as a referral from me. Also you have every right to just sign up on your own and have no ties to me or my business.
Book a demo
With so much new tech emerging even I cant keep up with all the new players in the CRM space. Theres almost 1 a week starting up all doing one thing slightly different from others. In this case I may reach out to the software and request a walkthrough of their platform.
Now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty and set up a time for a demo with each platform on your shortlist. Most companies will ask you specifically what you want to see so use your brief document to help guide the demo and come up with questions.
If you feel comfortable doing so, send the brief to the person providing the demo before hand. This can help them get a better idea of what you’re looking for so they can deliver the information that you need to make a decision.
It’s likely that the demos will uncover features and benefits that you hadn’t considered. These can be great but don’t let them distract you too much, make sure you don’t compromise on the features you identified because they’ve promised something shiny and new.
Take notes of all your demos so you can keep track of what was discussed and then go back to your spreadsheet. You should now be able to list which platforms are able to deliver on all of your required features. If not, go back to them and ask more questions until you are comfortable that you have all the information you need.
Another note you might find useful is that of your friends and colleges. Reach out to your Linkedin network and ask them what they use for a CRM and what their experience is. This can help you provide me with a short list of software that you thnk is a good fit for your business.
Select the platform that is right for you
The next step is harder than it may seem. The truth is, it’s unlikely that any platform you choose will be able to do everything that you want, and fit within your price range. You will probably have to compromise on some features or the price so bear that in mind when evaluating your options.
Have a look at your spreadsheet, which is now a selection matrix, and evaluate all of your options. Are any of them unable to deliver non-negotiables? Did you dislike the interface when going through the demo? Was there something about the process of the demo that you didn’t like? This should rule them out immediately. The rest is up to you.
Provide feedback to the platforms that you’ve decided not to go with and they will often come back to you with alternative ways to get the features you’re looking for. Also, let the successful company know why you decided to go with them, and what their perceived shortcomings were so that they can provide a better onboarding and ongoing experience to you.
You’re likely to be paying this company every month for a number of years so it’s worth trying to make a little extra saving, especially if you’re compromising on some of the features or price. The bigger your account the more wiggle room you’ll have to get a better price but it never hurts to ask.
That should give you everything you need to select a new CRM but don’t rest yet. The hard work of actually implementing it starts now. This is particularly the case if you’re transferring from an existing one so good luck.
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I am deeply integrated into the world of ecommerce, with a knack for problem solving and computers. Marketing excites me and Im a local WA business owner trying to make it on my own.